CHICAGO — Teachers officially approved a contract deal Friday following an 11-day strike in the nation’s third-largest school district last month.
Teachers went on strike Oct. 17 after months of failed negotiations with Chicago Public Schools and the city.The strike idled academics, sports and college prep for about 350,000 students and their families.
Members of the union’s governing body voted in favor of a tentative agreement with the city on Oct. 30, bringing the strike to an end the next day. But the contract wasn’t official until the union’s more than 25,000 members voted.
With about 80% of schools reporting their tallies Friday, union members voted 81% in favor of the new contract, the union said.
“Our contract fight was about the larger movement to shift values and priorities in Chicago,” union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said in a press release. “Working class taxpayers in Chicago have paid for skyscrapers that most will never visit — but a school nurse is someone their child in need can see on any day. In a city with immense wealth, corporations have the ability to pay to support the common good.”
The new contract guarantees all union members a 16% raise over the life of the five-year contract and invests $35 million in reducing class sizes. It also guarantees that every school will have a nurse and social worker by 2023, among other guarantees.
“I think that the teachers contract reflects a lot of equity investments around class sizes and other supports,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. “We believe that it is a good contract and … historic.”
Effects of the strike: Chicago’s kids are watching friends and family die. The teachers strike may finally bring them help.
The Chicago strike came amid a string of union walkouts nationwide. Since early 2018, teachers have taken charge of education policy debates, marched in the streets and filled state capitols to push for changes in how their states educate kids and pay teachers. The Chicago strike in October was longer than nearly every teacher walkout since 2018.
Democratic hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren spoke out in support of the Chicago strike, as well as the Windy City’s own Chance the Rapper, who hosted “Saturday Night Live” while wearing red and praising teachers during his opening monologue.
In order for the contract to be finalized, it must be accepted by the seven-member Chicago Board of Education, which meets Wednesday.
Contributing: Erin Richards, USA TODAY.